Brooks stands by hit, says it was clean play

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Four days have passed since he became a household name in the NFL, and San Francisco 49ers linebacker Ahmad Brooks has not backed down from defending his controversial (and game-altering) hit on New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees.

“I think it was a clean hit,” Brooks said Thursday in his first public comments since Sunday’s game and since the NFL fined him $15,750.

On the play, the 49ers appeared to get the ball on a turnover with about three minutes to go, but Brooks was called for a personal foul for a hit to Brees’ neck. It was a questionable call because it appeared Brooks hit Brees’ shoulder more than his neck. The 15-yard penalty gave the Saints new life, and New Orleans finished the drive with a game-tying field goal with 2:06 to go. The Saints won it with another field goal as time expired.

Brooks vehemently defended the play after the game. Asked what he thought when he actually saw the play on film, he responded, “I said, ‘That’s how you make a hit.’ … I thought it was a clean play.”

He said he has his appeal hearing set for Tuesday.

“Hopefully they’ll hear me out, because I didn’t intentionally mean to knock him out like that, but that’s part of the game,” Brooks said. “I didn’t hit him in the head. You could argue maybe I got him in the neck a little bit, but it was really in the chest area, the collarbone. …

“I didn’t hit him with my helmet. It was my arm. I clotheslined him in his collarbone. Just by him falling and being 5-[foot]-11, 6-foot, it made it look like I hit him in the neck.”

The play has become one of the most scrutinized of the season. Brooks said with a laugh that it’s the most publicity he’s received in his playing career, “but it ain’t worth 16 grand.”

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